Would you look at that. The Lakers have a nationally televised game tonight on ESPN, and, amazingly, the main NBA insider there just happened to get a scoop on how actually everything is fine between LeBron James and the organization. Just in time for the pregame show. Sometimes everything just works out.
For those that missed this on Twitter, on the heels of news that the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t exactly ready to jump through hoops to bring LeBron James home, and after a week that has seen so much toxicity through the media between the team and James’ (and his reps at Klutch Sports) that a majority of fans we polled are both ready to consider trading James and have lost faith in ownership and the front office, it turns out none of this mattered and, actually, everything is totally fine and normal.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, obviously no one had any plans or motives for making that noise, but James, his agent Rich Paul, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and team governor Jeanie Buss are committed to solving the mystery of where it all came from, and then continuing forward together:
In the aftermath of LeBron James’ public comments on a possible return to Cleveland and media reports describing his agency’s displeasure with the organization, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka on Tuesday, insisting that there’s no movement underway to seek management changes and that he believes there’s a shared accountability for the franchise’s disappointing season, sources told ESPN.
Paul — whose agency represents stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis — made it clear that James’ primary objective is remaining a Laker and the goal now ought to be to finish the season as strong as possible and then regroup in the offseason on ways to improve the team, sources said.
A few hours later, Rich Paul went on record with Sam Amick of The Athletic to further insist there are no issues between any of the people involved here:
Paul strongly refuted the notion that there was any sort of divide between James and the Lakers, or that these were all signs of a grand exit plan that’s yet to come. And when the meeting was all done, one in which Paul said some of the time was even spent “laughing and catching up,” he says they all found themselves in a more productive, peaceful place.
“I just don’t think (communicating indirectly) is the right way of doing business,” Paul, who also represents the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, told The Athletic. “And I don’t think that’s who we are, who LeBron is. We have a great partnership with the Lakers. The Klutch Sports Group and the Lakers don’t have an issue. Rich Paul and Rob Pelinka don’t have an issue. LeBron James and Rob Pelinka don’t have an issue. And Jeanie Buss and LeBron and Rich Paul don’t have an issue. It’s very simple. Very simple. So, you know, whoever put that type of stuff out, and people run with it, I think it’s unfair to the Lakers.”
The hilarity of Paul saying that he doesn’t think communicating indirectly is who LeBron is aside, this kind of eventual public peacemaking was, as we podcasted about yesterday, always the most likely outcome. James is obviously not in a rush to uproot himself and/or his family, and the organization of course doesn’t want to lose a still MVP-caliber 37-year-old who brought them their first title in a decade. It just makes a lot more sense for both sides to pour some cold water on this through the media now, try to simmer things down, and re-approach in the offseason, when James will be eligible for an extension. The last week was exhausting, but for now, the circus is over.
It’s also probably not a coincidence that this info was timed for now, either, and not just because the Lakers are on ESPN tonight. With the Cavaliers not sounding like they’re ready to bend over backwards for another James homecoming, and the Lakers making it clear that that they’re not going to get rid of their brain trust of Pelinka, Kurt and Linda Rambis, James may have felt like his message has been sent, and be ready to back off for now rather than continue to frantically try and us passive aggressiveness to create leverage to exert pressure on the organization to bend to his whims. Especially when, at 37, that strategy may not accomplish what he wants anyway.
Or maybe all this was really much ado about nothing, like we’re clearly supposed to believe. Maybe LeBron is just a really big Sam Presti, Koby Altman and Les Snead fan, and we’re all making too much of his obviously totally innocent remarks that had no ulterior motive to them whatsoever. Maybe this “LeBron James is not trying to get Rob Pelinka fired by praising other GMs” report doesn’t need to raise any more questions already answered by the report.
Obviously everything is — and always has been — totally fine. Nothing to see here.